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A bottle of Purell Hand Sanitizer

PURELL® Hand Sanitizer is formulated to kill 99.99% of germs on the surface of your hands, improve or maintain the skin condition and provide a good sensory experience in as little as 15 seconds. Its active ingredient is ethanol (70% w/w). It is used by wetting one's hands thoroughly with the product, then briskly rubbing one's hands together until dry. PURELL® Hand Sanitizer has been developed to be used repeatedly without damaging the skin. PURELL Hand Sanitizer contains natural moisturizers and is proven to maintain skin’s natural condition.[1] PURELL Green Certified Instant Hand Sanitzer is the first hand sanitizer to meet EcoLogo CCD-170 standards.[2]

Ownership and Distribution[edit]

The brand is owned by GOJO Industries, a family owned, privately held company in Akron, Ohio. PURELL Hand Sanitizer was introduced to the market in 1996.Pfizer acquired the exclusive rights to distribute Purell in the consumer market from GOJO Industries in 2004,[3] and on June 26, 2006, Johnson & Johnson announced its acquisition of the Pfizer Consumer Healthcare division, which includes the PURELL brand.[4] In 2010, GOJO bought the brand back from Johnson & Johnson.[5]

Health Benefits[edit]

Scientific outcome studies provide evidence that hand hygiene, including the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer like PURELL Hand Sanitizer, reduces the risk of getting sick.

A recent study conducted by the makers of PURELL Hand Sanitizer and Dr. Charles Gerba demonstrated that the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can significantly reduce and prevent germ transfer via commonly touched surfaces within the household.[6]

Studies and epidemiological evidence have consistently demonstrated the significant benefits (typically in the range of 20-50% reduction of illness of using PURELL Instant Hand Sanitizer in real-world settings:

-14.8 % to 39.9% reduction in upper respiratory-illness symptoms; 20% in total improvement in illness rate; 43% less missed school/work days[7]

-20% reduction in absenteeism in a workplace setting[8]

-20-50% reduction in absenteeism in schools[9] [10]

-30% reduction in infection rates in long-term care facilities[11]

-36% reduction in infection rates in a hospital setting[12]

-40 % less respiratory illness, 48% less gastrointestinal illness, 44% less lost training time and 31% fewer healthcare encounters[13]

Ingredients and Use[edit]

PURELL formulations are safe and effective when used as directed and an important resource for reducing the spread of germs. Labels on all PURELL products provide instructions to follow in the event of ingestion. Label instructions direct the user to immediately seek medical attention or contact a Poison Control Center right away.

The benefits of instant hand sanitizer for safeguarding public health are well-documented in many settings.

Purell purposely adds an unpleasant bitter taste to its product to make it undesirable to drink and to discourage ingestion. Media reports suggest that by filtering the alcohol from the hand sanitizer, the bitter taste disappears, however this is incorrect. Filtering the alcohol does not remove the bitter taste of the hand sanitizer. While the news of any product abuse is disturbing, reports of accidental or intentional ingestion have been rare in the 24 years that PURELL products have been used by consumers, schools, hospitals, restaurants and other businesses. [14]

Alcohol is a common ingredient found in many consumer products, including mouthwash, cough syrup, fragrances and vanilla. PURELL encourages parents to talk to their teens about the dangers of any type of product misuse.

Besides ethyl alcohol, PURELL Hand Sanitizer contains water, isopropyl alcohol, glycerin, carbomer, fragrance, aminomethyl propanol, propylene glycol, isopropyl myristate, and tocopheryl acetate.

Consistent with best practices for all products used around children, always supervise PURELL Hand Sanitizer use by children under six years of age or those whose judgment may be impaired.

Leading Health Organizations Recommendations[edit]

The benefits of instant hand sanitizer for safeguarding public health are well-documented in many settings. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are recommended by numerous leading health organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada and the World Health Organization[14] to fight the spread of germs.

Myths about Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizers[edit]

There are many misconceptions about alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Truth: Hand Sanitizers DO NOT Cause Antibiotic Resistance

A common myth about hand sanitizers is they can cause antibiotic resistance. The truth is that antibiotics are ingested, and they operate completely differently than alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The alcohol quickly kills a broad spectrum of germs, and it is not left behind on your skin to let the germs become resistant. [15]

According to the CDC, the primary cause of antibiotic resistance is the repeated and improper use of antibiotics. [16]

Truth: Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers DO NOT Cause Supergerms

One of the myths about alcohol-based hand sanitizers is they can create “super germs.” The truth is that ethyl alcohol, the active ingredient in PURELL® Advanced Hand Sanitizers and other alcohol-based hand sanitizers, rapidly destroys the cell membranes and denatures the proteins. It’s not left behind to let the germs become resistant or become what some people call “super germs.”[17]

Truth: All Germs ARE NOT the Same

There are actually two different types of germs – transient organisms and resident organisms. The resident organisms live on our skin at all layers of the skin. The transient organisms are acquired as you touch something, and they can be transmitted inside your body, or to someone else directly or via other objects touched (i.e. cross-contamination), putting you and others at risk for illness. [18]

Truth: All Hand Sanitizers ARE NOT the Same. Formulation Matters

Alcohol-based and non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not the same; in fact, they are very different. The truth is that the formulation matters. The active ingredient is important but the total formulation affects the antimicrobial efficacy. The product also has to deliver good skin care performance – at least not damage the skin. And the third important point is that it provides a good sensory experience: it’s likeable in use.[19]

Truth: Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers DO NOT Contain Triclosan

One of the most common myths with hand sanitizers is that they contain triclosan. The truth is that PURELL® Advanced Hand Sanitizer and other alcohol-based products do not contain triclosan. In the United States, the FDA requires that triclosan not be used in products that are left on the skin.[20]

Truth: Using Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers DO NOT Dry Your Hands

Many believe the frequent use of hand sanitizers will dry out your hands or your skin. The truth is that formulation matters. PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer has been developed to be used repeatedly without damaging the skin, and studies show that its use, even in high frequency conditions like healthcare settings, does not dry the skin out.[21]


  1. ^ Boyce JM, Kelliher S, Vallande N. Skin irritation and dryness associated with two hand hygiene regimens: soap and water handwashing versus hand antisepsis with an alcoholic hand gel. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 21:442-448, 2000.t
  2. ^ "A healthy decision for people, places and the environment". 
  3. ^ "Pfizer to Acquire PURELL(R) from GOJO; Alliance with GOJO and QualPak will Drive Global Expansion of Brand" (Press release). Pfizer. October 4, 2004. Archived from the original on March 4, 2006. 
  4. ^ Garvin, Jennifer (June 26, 2006). "Johnson & Johnson acquires Pfizer Consumer Healthcare". American Dental Association. Archived from the original on June 10, 2007. 
  5. ^ Byard, Katie (2010-10-30). "Purell brand handed back to Akron's GOJO". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved 2010-10-30. GOJO – the Akron soap maker – purchased the Purell hand-sanitizer brand from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Cos. Inc. Financial terms were not disclosed. 
  6. ^ Tamimi, A., Carlina, S., Edmonds, S., Gerba., 2014. “Impact of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer intervention on the spread of viruses in homes.” Food and Environmental Virology 6: 140-144
  7. ^ AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control. 31: 364-70, 2003. White, C. Ph.D. a; Kolble, R. BSN a; Carlson, R. MSN a: Lipson, N. BA a; Dolan, M. BS b; Ali, Y Ph.D. b; Cline M PhD b
  8. ^ FedEx Outcome Study Executive Update: Interim Report, July 27, 2004, (unpublished) GOJO Industries, Inc., 90.3% confidence interval.
  9. ^ Ginan, McGuckin, M., and Ali, Y., 2002. “The effect of a comprehensive handwashing program on absenteeism in elementary schools.” American Journal of Infection Control 30: 217-220
  10. ^ AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control. 28 (5): 340-346, October 2000. Hammond, B. a; Ali, Y. Ph.D. a; Fendler, E. Ph.D. a; Dolan, M. a; Donovan S. RN, MSN b.
  11. ^ AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control. 30(4):226-233, June 2002. Fendler, E. J. PhD a; Ali, Y. PhD a; Hammond, B. S. a; Lyons, M. K. BSN, RN b; Kelley, M. B. CRRN b; Vowell, N. A. RN b
  12. ^ AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control. 31(2):109-116, April 2003. Hilburn, Jessica MT (ASCP), CIC a; Hammond, Brian S. b; Fendler, Eleanor J. PhD b; Groziak, Patricia A. MS b
  13. ^ Military Medicine, Volume 172, Number 11, November 2007, pp. 1170-1176(7)
  14. ^ a b "Purell Corporate Statement: Discouraging Misuse by Ingestion". Purell. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  15. ^ http://purell.com/staywell/7-myths/myths.aspx
  16. ^ http://purell.com/staywell/7-myths/myths.aspx
  17. ^ http://purell.com/staywell/7-myths/myths.aspx
  18. ^ http://purell.com/staywell/7-myths/myths.aspx
  19. ^ http://purell.com/staywell/7-myths/myths.aspx
  20. ^ http://purell.com/staywell/7-myths/myths.aspx
  21. ^ http://purell.com/staywell/7-myths/myths.aspx

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